Quest for young adults drive newspaper evolution; pundit says Toronto is the market to watch
The chase for young adults is the biggest trend and the biggest challenge for newspapers across the Western world today, according to Earl Wilkinson, executive director of the Dallas, Texas-based International Newspaper Marketing Association (INMA). 'The million-dollar question is how do you attract young adult readers in particular across a 24-hour day because with information ubiquity they are consuming media in smaller bites throughout the day?' The idea he says is one information mill, one brand, but many platforms.
The chase for young adults is the biggest trend and the biggest challenge for newspapers across the Western world today, according to Earl Wilkinson, executive director of the Dallas, Texas-based International Newspaper Marketing Association (INMA). ‘The million-dollar question is how do you attract young adult readers in particular across a 24-hour day because with information ubiquity they are consuming media in smaller bites throughout the day?’ The idea he says is one information mill, one brand, but many platforms.
Wilkinson, in Toronto today to speak at the Advertising Club’s Newspaper Day, says tactics such as free daily papers, ‘lite’ or miniature papers, smaller formats, online and mobile options are just some of the manifestations of this obsession. As a result, he says newspapers have put themselves in the shoes of advertisers to focus on how they can deliver unduplicated reach across platforms: they’re selling solutions while TV and radio are still selling 30-second spots. Newspapers are also adjusting to the on-demand world where consumers access media when and where they want it.
‘If you ask a 27-year-old why they don’t read a newspaper, it’s because the paper doesn’t get to them at the moment in the day they really want it. Inevitably, it’s in the office, not the home.’ Wilkinson explains, ‘We’ve gone through a period over the last 30 years where we’ve seen the relative death of evening newspapers (because of television), the rise of morning papers, and now of all things the death of the breakfast (newspaper reading) experience amongst adults under 40.’
Online and mobile versions of newspapers address these changes but some countries are also exploring other solutions that give consumers options on format and timing of delivery. He says in Japan the number two paper, which has a 12-million circulation, is tracking readers across a 24-hour period with print papers in the morning, high-impact mobile applications on the long commute to work, the Web site during the day, mobile again on the way home, and print again when they get home. Consumers can choose the format and timing of delivery.
Wilkinson says, ‘There’s an interesting tension in our business right now, a desire to change but without alienating the existing customer base. Do you do that with a single product or with multiple products in a single market? To me it’s safer to run multiple products. In 20 years if all you’ve got is a single print newspaper, you’re in trouble.’
In addition to their appeal to the younger demos, Wilkinson says free dailies, have helped inject creativity into newspapers – even the core print products – with alternative advertising sizes and shapes, pricing options, as well as a little more flexibility when it comes to working with advertisers that want to get closer to content. But even with all of this innovation, Wilkinson says newspaper readership in the Western world has declined by 8% over the last 10 years. This is unique to mature Western democracies, a societal shift rather than something caused by one age or gender demographic or another.
‘People are information-rich and aspiration-poor. I can get a newspaper anytime, anywhere so the value proposition for mature markets is very different than what is happening in India where you’re seeing 10% to 20% circulation increases every year.’
Wilkinson says the Canadian newspaper industry is a very strong one with Toronto being the most dynamic, robust newspaper market per capita in North America. ‘Based on the people I’ve talked to so far, I’m not sure the newspapers here realize that – and I guarantee that the advertising community doesn’t realize it. Toronto has got the most daily newspapers and in many regards looks in 2006 what the rest of North America is going to look like in about 2050 in terms of ethnic makeup.’
The International Newspaper Marketing Association (inma.org) is a non-profit industry association headquartered in Dallas, Texas with members in 70 countries around the world.